Friday, December 23, 2011

The Inn Keeper's Wife

My name is Sarah. My husband is the inn keeper of this two-bit tavern in Bethlehem, though I do most of the work. Life has been a disappointment for me and I have been my husband’s disappointment.

I had two miscarriages and then finally a little girl. When my husband saw that it was a girl he frowned. He wanted a boy, and I cried. I guess I’ve become hardened. Life did not turn out as I expected. My husband buries his disappointment in his work; in this tavern. We are Jews but Yahweh has disappointed us so we just go through the motions.

As a woman, I wonder if a time will ever come that the arrival of a baby girl will be cause for as much joy as a baby boy. Will there ever be a man who sees a woman as an equal act of God and treat her as such? I have had to stuff down so much of my talents, thoughts, and opinions. There is a lot more I could do but I don’t think I’ll get the chance.

That all changed one cold night in Bethlehem when a young couple came to us seeking shelter at our packed Inn. My husband talked to them first and I came up behind him as he was shutting the door saying, “There is no room here.” I didn’t think much until I looked at the young woman in the beginning throes of childbirth. This was the night that changed my life. Let me tell you about it in my journal.

Thursday, April 13, 5 B.C.
Early evening, Bethlehem
Early yesterday evening a young couple arrived at our tavern seeking shelter. My “business as usual” husband was about to shut the door on them when I got a glimpse of the beautiful young woman in great discomfort. She was in labor. I think she was a painful reminder to my husband of having only one child, and not a son.

I blocked the door from being shut and stepped into the doorway in front of my husband, to his great annoyance. I looked at the young couple. Both had eyes filled with desperation and hope for a kind act. I felt a surge in my heart. I must help this couple. It was an overwhelming desire. More like a calling. I walked outside and took the young woman by the arm, along with her husband, shielding her from the crowds and staring eyes.

The handsome young husband politely and quietly told me, “This is my fiancée, Mary. I am Joseph.” Fiancée! And she was giving birth. I felt even more protective. Mary would be judged. I felt a mother’s protection for the young couple who were young enough to be my own children.

I didn’t know what I was going to do until I saw this donkey walking up the path with what I could swear was a silly grin. I almost thought he was going to talk to us.

Joseph in a lighthearted moment looked at me and chuckled, “That’s my donkey Good News. I count on him to bring me that very thing.”
I looked at the goofy donkey and an idea arose in my mind. I looked back at Joseph and said that I thought I had good news for him. It was not great news but at least better than the bad news he had gotten at our tavern. Follow me, I told them. We both led Mary down the path. The donkey turned around and followed us.

We arrived at the cave where we kept some of our livestock. I said it’s not much but it will have privacy and some warmth. Joseph quickly responded to my hesitating offer by saying, “Sarah, don’t worry. This is perfect.”

He thanked me repeatedly as we sat Mary down to make her comfortable. “I will be back in a minute with some blankets,” I offered. Mary groaned. I hurried back to the tavern and returned with the blankets from our bed. My husband and I will have to rely on each other for warmth tonight.

It wasn’t long before her time arrived. Joseph blurted out the strangest thing to me. He said, “Sarah, this child is special.” I smiled saying, “I know young man.”

He continued, “No, no Sarah. Special. This child is the child of Isaiah 7:14. This is the one we’ve heard about all of our lives from the prophets. He is the Son of the Most High.”

I stared in disbelief that turned to wonder as I looked into the face of Mary. She was in pain but smiled with tears, nodding her head. She said, “Sarah, believe. You will be blessed. Yes Sarah, you will be blessed as will all who make room for Him as you have.” Mary’s words were broken off by a contraction and a loud scream. Panic was on Joseph’s face. I took over. I am not a midwife but I knew what to do.

Joseph held Mary as the child began his descent from Mary’s womb. Later I would more accurately describe it as His descent from heaven. He slid into my arms as Mary fell back in exhaustion and yet she laughed through her sweat and tears; as did Joseph. I looked in wonder. The strangest thought came to me as I looked in His face for a brief second before I placed Him in the arms of his mother. I think this is the child who will become a man and bring dignity, honor, and respect to all women, to me. It was there that I determined I would follow the progress of this child and one day become His follower. If He would have me.

Mary, with joy, took her child. I quickly cleared out the manger and placed fresh straw in it and one of the blankets. Mary picked up the blanket and swaddled him. It was then I noticed the brightness of light outside.

I stepped out and beheld the brightest star I have ever seen. And then I heard something like thunder. I listened. The thunder continued. It was voices. A thousand voices singing the most beautiful song I have ever heard. “Glory! God! Highest!” These were the three words I could make out.

I turned back and entered to ask Mary and Joseph if they could hear it. But I couldn’t talk. I could only gaze at Mary as she took her baby to her breast and began to nurse him. Mary smiled at me and said, “His name is Yeshua. He is the Star Maker.” Joseph added that he has come to be with us; to bring Yahweh’s forgiveness of our sins. Mary added, “I am blessed among women, Sarah. But you are not far behind because God chose you to make room for him.”

I began to weep. I turned away. I prayed as I knelt for the first time in over 20 years. I heard footsteps and I looked up to see a motley band of shepherds out of breath and anxious. “We are looking for a newborn. He is…,” “the Son of the Most High,” I interrupted.

Yes, yes they anxiously responded. I dried my tears and said, “Come with me. I will take you to him.”

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